FCC Honors Dan Brenner

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler paused the FCC's public meeting Thursday for a moment of silence in remembrance of Judge Dan Brenner, the former top FCC advisor and cable attorney who was struck and killed earlier this week while crossing a Los Angeles street. He was a L.A. County Superior Court judge.

But before that Wheeler had plenty to say about his former friend and colleague.

Wheeler called Brenner a "former member of the team" at the FCC. He was a senior advisor to chairman Charlie Ferris and his successor, Mark Fowler, and pointed out he had served for 17 years as chief regulatory council at NCTA, where Wheeler was the former president.

Wheeler said picturing Judge Brenner in a robe was "something that those of us who knew Dan always thought was interesting attire for someone who was so quick minded and so funny." Brenner was also an accomplished stand-up comedian.

"He was a mentor to many in the policy community and a friend to us all. He was a leader in the LGBT Community [he was a driving force in the Cable Positive AIDS funding effort] and spent a lot of time teaching math to the underprivileged community. He is truly going to be missed. He was a great person and a great man."

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said Brenner would be missed by the bar and the FCC family. "Our hearts are heavy. It is tough when a light like that is dimmed, but he will never be forgotten."

Commissioner Ajit Pai called him a great lawyer, a good man and a very funny man. He said the first and only case he ever argued before the D.C. Circuit, which has primary jurisdiction over FCC decisions, was against Brenner. "It was a very arcane inside wiring case and I told him afterward that I thought we were pretty likely to win, nonetheless I told him that if he had challenged the regulations adoption many years ago, I told him off the record he would have a had a pretty decent chance of winning, and he said: 'Now you tell me.'"

Pai said the joie de vivre Brenner brought to everything he did was remarkable. "We thank him for his public service to the people of California and for his labors at the FCC and will remember him in the years to come."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.